Director Francis Ford Coppola hosted his third annual charity
dinner in San Francisco last Sunday to raise money for the North
Beach Citizens, which benefits the neighborhood’s homeless.
For $1,500 to $10,000 per table, patrons of Francis Cooks for
North Beach Part III were treated to a family style Italian dinner
at Saints Peter and Paul Church, complete with musical
entertainment and celebrity appearances, while supporting a good
The event drew some recognizable faces such as directors George
Lucas and Christopher Columbus, District Attorney Kamala Harris,
Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer, and Father John Malloy.
North Beach Citizens is composed of a variety of programs
designed to help the homeless and enhance the surrounding
community. Currently 40 residents are actively involved in the
program, which has helped a total of 150 people, according to
Kristie Fairchild of North Beach Citizens. The organization offers
incentives to the people it serves, including access to a volunteer
corps of doctors, a scholarship program, a partnership with the San
Francisco Art Institute and a street cleaning program.
Coppola, founder of the non-profit organization, said he has
noticed many differences in the North Beach community as a result
of the program.
“I see an increase in community partnership and involvement. I
see a true sense of pride,” he said. “When my group is embraced by
the community, it really makes a difference to know they are
Coppola demonstrated his dedication to North Beach Citizens when
he stayed at the church until 10 p.m. the previous night in
preparation for Sunday’s dinner featuring rigatoni with meatballs,
pork chops and eggplant parmigiana. To accompany the four-course
meal, each table was presented with a selection of red and white
wines donated from the Coppola winery.
“It’s kind of an oxymoron having a family style dinner for 700
people,” said Coppola.
Before dinner was served, co-host of the event, Lawrence
Ferlighetti acknowledged the first anniversary of the war on Iraq
and the direct impact the war may have on the North Beach
“How many vets will end up on the streets here now that the Bush
administration has cut down on those benefits?” he said. “North
Beach Citizens project has given new hope and a way up and out and
a feeling of dignity. Homeless with mental problems and drug
problems are a direct end product of capitalism and war. Bravo to
anyone who can help the homeless.”
Not everyone was aligned in agreement with Ferlinghetti.
“This is a charity event, not a political event,” said attendee
Patrick Kanicki. “We’re here to help the homeless.”
The entertainment throughout the evening included a musical
performance from the Green Street Mortuary Band and some rock and
roll from Johnny Nitro and the Door Slammers. During the
performance by the Green Street Mortuary Band, Coppola picked up
the baton and guest-conducted the piece “Stars and Stripes Forever”
to enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.
After filling up with pasta and wine, people packed onto the
dance floor to dance the night away to classic rock and roll